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Attorney Calls Appeal of Racial Bias Decision 'Frivolous'

November 05, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

An attorney representing a Latino officer who won a federal racial discrimination trial against Glendale characterized the city's appeal of that decision as "frivolous."

"It is nothing but a reargument of evidence and that's inappropriate," attorney David Alkire said in an interview this week. Glendale is appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a judge's decision that city officials discriminated against Latino Officer Ricardo L. Jauregui, 39, by passing him up for promotion in favor of less-qualified Anglo officers.

U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. ordered in October, 1986, that Jauregui, a 14-year department veteran, be immediately promoted to sergeant and be given back pay at that rank retroactive to February, 1985. However, in January a U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled that Jauregui not be promoted until the appeal is resolved.

Tevrizian also ordered Glendale to hire an outside expert to investigate charges of racism leveled against the city. Attorney and Latino activist Herman Sillas was appointed to the post in January. Included as evidence in his investigation are cartoons and flyers submitted during the trial that depicted Latinos and blacks in a derogatory manner. At the end of the investigation, Sillas will submit a written report and recommendations to the Glendale City Council. The investigation is expected to be completed soon, Sillas said.

Judge's Actions Questioned

The 49-page appeal included in its questions whether Tevrizian properly backed claims that Jauregui was treated differently than other officers; whether Tevrizian abused his discretion in denial of a city motion of disparate treatment; whether there was sufficient evidence in the record to support Jauregui's claim of disparate treatment and whether the derogatory cartoons and flyers submitted as evidence were relevant to the promotion decision.

"Basically, the gist of the appeal is that the District Court judge erred in the law and the facts," said Glendale Senior Assistant City Atty. Scott H. Howard. "We feel that there are in some cases mistakes in applying the evidence to Richard Jauregui."

Glendale is requesting that the appellate panel reverse Tevrizian's finding fully, or reverse it and order a new trial, Howard said.

In the appeal, Howard said Police Chief David J. Thompson and Police Department captains viewed Jauregui "as being an excellent technical police officer but one who lacked good interpersonal relationship skills which, in the opinion of the chief and three of the four captains, was a vital quality necessary for the supervisory position."

The appeal went on to say that evaluations showed that Jauregui was perceived as being "heavy-handed, rude and abrasive, or that he lacked patience with the public and younger officers."

"This was an appellate brief drafted more to make people feel good back home than to influence any appellate judge," said Alkire, who last week filed with the court a 41-page brief responding to the Glendale appeal.

To be granted an appeal, Glendale must be able to show that Tevrizian was erroneous in his findings.

"The arguments he made simply are not going to get past that standard," Alkire said of Howard's appeal.

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